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Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue 25, The Proposal Of The Host - (Forrest Hainline's Minimalist Translation)

Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue 25, The Proposal Of The Host - (Forrest Hainline's Minimalist Translation)

715 Now have I told you truly, in a clause,
716 The estate, the array, the number, and too the cause
717 Why that assembled was this company
718 In Southwerk at this gentle hostelry
719 Called the Tabard, fast by the Belle.
720 But now is time to you for to tell
721 How that we baren us that same night,
722 When we were in that hostelry allright;
723 And after will I tell of our voyage
724 And all the remnant of our pilgrimage.
725 But first I pray you, of your courtesy,
726 That you not ascribe it to my villainy,
727 Though that I plainly speak in this matter,
728 To tell you their words and their cheer.
729 Nor though I speak their words properly.
730 For this you know also well as I:
731 Whoso shall tell a tale after a man,
732 He must rehearse as nigh as ever he can
733 Every word, if it be in his charge,
734 All speak he never so rudely or large,
735 Or else he must tell his tale untrue,
736 Or feign things, or find words new.
737 He may not spare, although he were his brother;
738 He might as well say one word as another.
739 Christ spoke himself full broad in holy writ,
740 And well you know no villainy is it.
741 Eek Plato said, whoso can him read,
742 The words must be cousin to the deed.
743 Also I pray you to forgive it me,
744 All have I not set folk in their degree
745 Here in this tale, as that they should stand.
746 My wit is short, you may well understand.

747 Great cheer made our Host us everyone,
748 And to the supper set he us anon.
749 He served us with victuals at the best;
750 Strong was the wine, and well to drink us lest.
751 A seemly man our host was withall
752 For he'd been a marshal in a hall.
753 A large man he was with even step -
754 A fairer burgess was there none in Chepe -
755 Bold of his speech, and wise, and well taught,
756 And of manhood he lacked right naught.
757 Eek thereto he was right a merry man;
758 And after supper playing he began,
759 And spoke of mirth among other things,
760 When that we had made our reckonings,
761 And said thus: "Now, lords, truly,
762 You've been to me right welcome, heartily;
763 For by my troth, if that I shall not lie,
764 I saw not this year so merry a company
765 At once in this herber as is now.
766 Fain would I do you mirth, knew I how.
767 And of a mirth I am right now bethought,
768 To do you ease, and it shall cost naught.

769 "You're going to Canterbury - God you speed,
770 The blissful martyr quit you your meed!
771 And well I know, as you go on by the way,
772 You'll shape you to tell and to play;
773 For truly, comfort nor mirth is none
774 To ride by the way dumb as a stone;
775 And therefore will I make you disport,
776 As I said erst, and do you some comfort.
777 And if you like all by one assent
778 For to stand at my judgment,
779 And for to work, as I shall you say,
780 Tomorrow, when you ride by the way,
781 Now by my father's soul that is dead,
782 But you be merry, I will give you my head!
783 Hold up your hands, without more speech."

©2009,2019 Forrest Hainline

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